Examples of tags as dominant navigation?

2 Apr 2009 - 3:00pm
5 years ago
10 replies
1469 reads
Nicole Maron
2004

Hello peers,

I'm working on a high-volume video site that covers an enormous number of
topics that is growing by 2-5 topics/subtopics per month. Our search is
great btu we need to improve wayfinding and browseability. We had an
overblown hierarchical structure before that was difficult to manage on the
editorial side. Our biggest problems to solve now:

1) Hierarchical structure is problematic because each video can easily fit
in multiple categories. For instance, SF Mayor Newsom talking about city
greening efforts fits in: government, urban planning, environment, politics,
society, and a number of subtopics. The way or site works, videos are
autmaticall published to all their topic area. But we don't want the same
videos to show up at the same time in 6+ areas of the site.

2) Subnavigation under main topics is unscalable as new subtopics get added.

We want to avoid an unscalable IA, and are exploring ideas around using tags
(defined by editorial rather than user-generated; users' tag will be applied
for personal/group organization only) for dominant navigation. We feel we
need to keep the big buckets for top-level nav, but think there is an
opportunity worth checking out.

Does anyone have examples of sites that use tags this way? It's fun
challenge but I'm trying to decide whether it is worth our very limited UX
budget to experiment, or whether we should suck it up and stick with a more
familiar 2- or 3-tiered hierarchical structure, using tags as contextual nav
on the side?

Thanks for playing. I'll happily post a summarized list of examples later.

Cheers,

~N~

Nicole Maron
twitter: nicolemaron
blog: http://technopatra.com/blog

Comments

3 Apr 2009 - 12:57am
Yohan Creemers
2008

Hi Nicole,

Although not a high volume site: the navigation on http://www.annemarike.com
is fully based on tags.

Hope this example can offer some inspiration.

- Yohan.

3 Apr 2009 - 3:06am
Harry Brignull
2004

Hi Nicole,

Have you considered faceted navigation and rejected it? (e.g.
http://konigi.com/interface/hulu-faceted-navigation ) .... sounds like the
perfect solution to me.

Harry

--
http://www.90percentofeverything.com

3 Apr 2009 - 3:41am
Manish Govind P...
2006

Hi Nicole,
A timely question in fact.

I was recently working on a UI which is content heavy. More like a wikipedia for a company.The original pages had content with links to keywords on almost every alternate line. Each of those links connected pages within the site itself. All this, making the pages look very cluttered ( link heavy ) and often taking the users away from reading the entire content.

On a trial basis, i have pulled out those links(keywords) and put them in a sort of Tag cloud on the left hand. I expect users to read the text without any hindrance. In case the user wants to know more about various keywords in the content, the 'tag cloud' if we can call it, offers a steady panel to do so.

As I await the effects of this, my concern is that Tags are predominantly used to showcase grouped content. A particular case would be photo websites like Flickr, that lets one define a category of images, so when users click on one tag, all images that confirm to that tag/subject are displayed.

Is this behaviour dominating enough to let users expect  a sort of search results for the content as well?

So, the question is, can a tag cloud be a navigation panel ?

Looking at http://www.annemarike.com, I wonder what purpose such an interface serves?
There is an extensive search required for content that's relevant to me. Not nearly, but close to finding a needle in a haystack.

--- On Thu, 2/4/09, Nicole Maron <nicole at technopatra.com> wrote:

From: Nicole Maron <nicole at technopatra.com>
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Examples of tags as dominant navigation?
To: discuss at ixda.org
Date: Thursday, 2 April, 2009, 9:00 PM

Hello peers,

I'm working on a high-volume video site that covers an enormous number of
topics that is growing by 2-5 topics/subtopics per month. Our search is
great btu we need to improve wayfinding and browseability. We had an
overblown hierarchical structure before that was difficult to manage on the
editorial side. Our biggest problems to solve now:

1) Hierarchical structure is problematic because each video can easily fit
in multiple categories. For instance, SF Mayor Newsom talking about city
greening efforts fits in: government, urban planning, environment, politics,
society, and a number of subtopics. The way or site works, videos are
autmaticall published to all their topic area. But we don't want the same
videos to show up at the same time in 6+ areas of the site.

2) Subnavigation under main topics is unscalable as new subtopics get added..

We want to avoid an unscalable IA, and are exploring ideas around using tags
(defined by editorial rather than user-generated; users' tag will be applied
for personal/group organization only) for dominant navigation. We feel we
need to keep the big buckets for top-level nav, but think there is an
opportunity worth checking out.

Does anyone have examples of sites that use tags this way? It's  fun
challenge but I'm trying to decide whether it is worth our very limited UX
budget to experiment, or whether we should suck it up and stick with a more
familiar 2- or 3-tiered hierarchical structure, using tags as contextual nav
on the side?

Thanks for playing. I'll happily post a summarized list of examples later.

Cheers,

~N~

Nicole Maron
twitter: nicolemaron
blog: http://technopatra.com/blog
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3 Apr 2009 - 4:06am
Anonymous

Hi Nicole,

ABC News have been using this "hot tag" structure (just beneath
their primary nav) for a while now:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/entertainment/

Celine.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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3 Apr 2009 - 7:13am
Yohan Creemers
2008

Manish Pillewar wrote:

> Looking at http://www.annemarike.com, I wonder what purpose such an
interface serves? There is an extensive search required for content that's
relevant to me.

The idea behind this interface is, that there is no 'relevant' content.
People browse sites like this for entertainment, same applies for Flickr and
YouTube. The purpose of the interface is to elicit a mouse click and to
pleasantly surprise people. The associative links bring users more of the
same, steering them in a certain direction.

Like with http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/ there is no task
to be completed. People start without a clear goal, and the interface might
help them to find something they really like.

- Yohan.

3 Apr 2009 - 9:54am
Phillip Hunter
2006

I was investigating possibly using a similar idea for an internal project and came across this discussion of a project, http://is.gd/a4O, that apparently uses the idea. As does the msdn blog it's on.

Phillip

3 Apr 2009 - 10:23am
Shawn Collins
2009

Hello Nicole,

I'm involved with an online video project called the global oneness
project and we use tags (we call them keywords) as a pretty visible
way of navigating the site.

When we initially started the site, we ran into the same issues and
questions that you have. My primary concern was to create a site that
was scalable (Started with a dozen videos but now have hundreds), took
advantage of the growing use of tags, but still didn't alienate our
presumed large audience of non technical users.

So what I came up with was a global navigation that consists of a
basic hierarchical navigation that breaks down videos into our two
subcategories of short films and interviews and an area called
"explore" that uses tags to filter content by keywords and
categories.

We also surface related tags on the individual video pages and
compliment that with "related videos"

I don't have any hard data on the success rates of each piece of
navigation but what I have noticed during the past year is that the
users who "explore" by category or keywords spend way more time on
the site and seem to have a deeper experience.

Oh... one last thing. All of our content is self produced so our tags
are editorial and are not generated by users.

Feel free to contact me with any additional specific video site
questions. Happy to help.

Shawn
Visual Designer
http://www.globalonenessproject.org

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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4 Apr 2009 - 6:03pm
Den Serras
2009

I'm doing a huge e-commerce style site that has no category system at
all, other that filters like location and manufacturer. No categories,
no drilling, just searching and then extensive filtering of the
results. Once we have it past alpha I'll post it here for comment.
So I can't tell you if it's successful, but my client is betting
their company on it.

But I am hedging a little by including a "search cloud" on the
front page that is really a tag cloud that will show the most popular
tags from the items searched, rather than tags from the whole database
or direct search words. That'll keep one search from getting too big
in the cloud and show a wider range of tags.

As for filtering, I'm using a dynamic filter system. We load a list
of keywords generated by the first search that they can one-click
remove those items from the results, and a list of related keywords
that they can one-click add. Anyone seen anything like this? I
haven't found one yet, but I doubt it's an original idea.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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4 Apr 2009 - 6:46pm
Santiago Bustelo
2010

We have been doing extensive research since past year on a search-
(over)driven e-commerce model. I don' know what the site you're
working on sells, but can tell you that if the user already knows what
he/she wants, search is definitely the way to go.

On the groceries department, we managed to cut average shopping time
from 38 minutes to just 4 minutes. Completion rates skyrocketed.

As you may expect, that did not came without drawbacks. On the IxD
side, the user experience is far too different from current models.
Affordance issues are now our top priority to work on. We are
confident on the way we're going -- although current investment season
is not helping to speed it much.

--

Santiago Bustelo, Icograma
Buenos Aires, Argentina

//// IxDA BA es el primer grupo local en castellano.
//// Te esperamos! http://groups.google.com/group/ixda-ba

On 04/04/2009, at 16:03, Den Serras wrote:
> I'm doing a huge e-commerce style site that has no category system at
> all, other that filters like location and manufacturer. No categories,
> no drilling, just searching and then extensive filtering of the
> results.

5 Apr 2009 - 11:40pm
jolowo
2007

I worked on a project similar to your situation. We did some research
and here's one example we found.
http://www.gettyimages.com/Catalyst/Default.aspx.

We thought our users were not tech savvy enough to use a tag cloud as
a primary navigation, so we visually designed a global navigation as
our top categories, but in reality it's just a group of tag words.
When a top category tag is hovered on the navigation, a tag cloud
appears showing only the most popular tags associated with the top
category tag. If a sub tag is clicked, a search results page is
populated with content filtered by the top category tag and the sub
tag. On the search results page, we provided another tag cloud as a
page navigation to allow the user to filter deeper by selecting
another tag or they can remove any of the selected tags to widen the
search.

We performed a usability test on a group of people and our feedback
was positive. Unfortunately, the site is not complete so I can not
share but the prototype was pretty cool.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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